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Forecasters say Hurricane Willa has grown rapidly into an “extremely dangerous” near-Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific, on a path that could smash into Mexico’s western coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in the coming days.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Monday that Willa could “produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday.” It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday morning, generating life-threatening surf and rip conditions.
A hurricane warning was posted for Mexico’s western coast between San Blas and Mazatlan. Tropical storm warnings were raised from Playa Perula to San Blas and north of Mazatlan to Bahia Tempehuaya. The center said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Willa had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (249 kph) early Monday and was centered about 195 miles (315 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes. It was moving to the north at 5 mph (8 kph).
Hurricane force winds extended out 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the storm’s core and tropical storm force winds were up to 90 miles (145 kilometers) out.
The hurricane center said 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30.5 centimeters) of rain should fall — and some places could see up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) — on parts of Mexico’s western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states, raising the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.
Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.
Forecasters said it was expected to weaken into a tropical depression Monday night or early Tuesday while moving nearer to Mexico’s southern Pacific shore.
Its core was about 220 miles (355 kilometers) southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) late Sunday. The hurricane center said it could produce 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.